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Historical attraction

india Updated: Sep 22, 2006 16:29 IST
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Call it the Lage Raho Munna Bhai or RDB effect, all those who snoozed during their history classes are now shelling out money for those very books.

At the ongoing Delhi Book Fair, it is the stories of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and other historical figures that are flying off the racks and the buyers include a big chunk of youngsters.

Confirms Sayebur Rehman of Orient Longman, "The demand for books on historical figures has gone up by almost 100 per cent. Books on Gandhi and other national heroes are doing well."

Resurrecting past: The young, long been reviled for ignoring the national heroes, are now resurrecting the past through books.

Why is history so attractive for the young now? Sociologist Prof SR Maheshwari feels, "It may be due to the presentation of its fictionalised account by the mass media. People want to know about the present India for which a knowledge of the past is necessary."

Shruti Rastogi, a 19-year-old DU student, who picked up a book by Sumit Sarkar, says, "I am here as I am interested in the contemporary history of India."

There seems to be a general renewal of interest in history as besides Gandhi and Nehru, there is a big demand for Hitler's autobiography too. Akash Jain of Shrijee's, handling the distribution of Mein Kampf, says, "We run out of stock everyday."

Spirituality sells: New age spiritual gurus too are in demand between the covers. Informs NK Verma of The Federation of Indian Publishers, "This year, the spiritual books have done well, especially with the young."

That probably explains the large crowd at the stall of Gorakhpur's Gita Press. Says KC Parekh of the Press, "Our sales this year are better than last year and even young customers are purchasing the Bhagvad Gita." The popular ones are books on Baba Ram Dev, Osho, the Hanuman comic book, Autobiography of a Yogi and others. Clearly the young are re-discovering India.

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